Medical Alerts with Assistance Dogs for Seniors

Medical Alerts with Assistance Dogs for Seniors

time icon 5 min read update icon Sept. 30, 2019


Medical alert assistance dogs are trained to sense any change in a senior’s health. They can alert a senior when there is an alteration in their physique or emotional state. They can detect things such as an impending epileptic seizure, diabetes problems, psychiatric disorders, asthma attacks, and issues with COPD.

An assistance dog can not only alert the person that their health status is changing, they are also typically taught to press a button to summon help if the person’s condition progresses and worsens.


Medical alert assistance dogs are typically trained to detect health conditions before they manifest. As the dog forms an even deeper bond with its owner, its forecasting skills become more honed. It is believed that these dogs can detect the subtle changes in a person’s body such as respiration rate, perspiration, odor and behavior. When the dog notices sudden differences, he is trained to nudge the owner to alert them of the changes.

This advanced notification can allow the person time to sit down before they fall, or take medication to prevent whatever health issue might manifest. If the person’s health condition worsens, the dog will press a medical alert button to summon help. Medical alert dogs are also usually trained to bring medication to their owners, and can potentially assist in other ways, as well.

Advantages of Medical Alerts with Assistance Dogs for Seniors
  • The senior may feel less alone
  • Alleviates fears
  • Presses the medical alert button to summon help if the senior is unable to do so
  • Brings medication to the senior if needed
  • Can bring a juice bag to the senior to restore blood glucose
  • Can alert the senior before a medical crisis occurs
  • Is a faithful friend and companion
  • Alerts authorities
  • Can turn lights on and off
  • Can retrieve items
  • Opens doors and cabinets
Disadvantages of Medical Alerts with Assistance Dogs for Seniors
  • A dog is not a foolproof medical alert because the dog can make mistakes or become afraid.
  • No matter what, a dog is still a dog and requires proper care to thrive.
  • A dog must be walked, fed, watered, and taken outside which is a great deal of responsibility for many seniors, especially individuals with health problems.
  • A medical assist dog must have extensive training.
  • Dogs can be expensive for a senior living on a tight budget. They require food, toys, and regular veterinary care.
Assistance Dogs for Seniors Enhancement Options for Medical Alerts

Medical alert dogs are amazingly smart. Their capabilities often seem limitless. Such abilities make them highly trainable for a wide array of service enhancements.

  • Medical alert dogs can be taught to retrieve things.
  • They can be taught to turn the lights on and off.
  • The dogs can open and close doors or cabinets.
  • Many service dogs are trained to get medication for their owners in the event of an emergency.
Cost Considerations Associated with Assistance Dogs for Seniors

The cost of a fully trained medical alert assistance dog can average $25,000. However, there are innumerable non-profit organizations and foundations that provide medical alert dogs to seniors in need for free or very little cost.

Some seniors may want to have their own dogs trained to function as a medical alert dog. Training fees vary but usually run around $20,000.

Additional Considerations for Medical Alert Assistance Dogs for Seniors

A dog is a living being who requires love and care. The stronger the bond that the dog forms with his master, the more in tune he will become to the senior’s changing health conditions.  Medical alert dogs are amazing because they not only serve a valuable role as a healthcare worker for the senior, they also provide companionship that helps alleviate worry and fear.

Opting to add a medical alert assistance dog to your life should never be taken lightly. Ideally, you should spend time with the canine and make sure you are a good fit together. Once you open your heart and life to a dog, he will end up relying on you every bit as much as you depend on him. It is a complete relationship that is beneficial for both parties involved. 

This dog will be by your side day and night, so he can quickly and efficiently detect any changes that you may exhibit before a medical emergency occurs.

Kimberly Sharpe - Senior Advisor

Kimberly is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.